May 19, 2019 — In 2013 Oiemoto Zabosai sama undertook the historic task of complete refurbishment of the Konnichian complex of tearooms. As these tearooms have been designated Important Cultural Properties by the Japanese government, the refurbishment is being treated almost as an archeological endeavor. The massive process has now entered its third of four phases.
From the beginning of this year, work began on the tearooms Totsutotsusai, Dairo no ma, Saya no ma, and the Onsodo. This area of the complex was constructed by eleventh generation Gengensai Seichu Soshitsu. And indeed, as the ceiling of Totsutotsusai was dismantled, wood plaques dated 1801 and 1856 were found in the rafters. Oiemoto Zabosai will be adding another plaque of his own before the ceiling is sealed once again.
The dismantling also revealed the exact construction method of its famous ceiling, and confirmed that the wood came from the Goyomatsu five-needled pine trees planted by eighth generation Yugensai Itto on Daitokuji grounds.
The original materials will be preserved to the extent possible. If any have been damaged beyond repair, the new materials will be distressed and stained to match the surrounding. Kabe, clay plaster for the walls, has always been intended to be renewed periodically. This will be done where necessary, for example on some of the interior walls of Totsutotsusai. However, the original plaster will be left in place for the Onsodo and other tearooms.
The foundations for this area were replaced with concrete in 1965. This new foundation will be removed, and the foundation returned to its traditional form.
It is hoped that the restoration will be complete by 2020 in time for the Summer Olympics.
Update, June 12, 2019: Read the Restoration Fund Donation Acknowledgement from Urasenke
Urasenke Konnichian has established a fund for this historical project to which those wishing to express their support may contribute. At all of the UMAA meetings held thus far, members expressed a desire to connect with the Sen family and to give something back. Here is a concrete opportunity to do just that.
The names of these tearooms no doubt hold precious memories for Midorikai Alumni. We can be part of Urasenke’s long history and future by donating to the project. UMAA has set a goal of $5,000. To date, pledges for $2,500 have already come in. While the goal is now halfway met, how auspicious it would be to make an even more significant donation!
The projected date to offer the UMAA contribution is February 15, 2019, in time for the observation of Rikyu-ki. A list of contributor names only will be sent along with the offering. You may make a contribution to preserve this heritage that we love.
Thank you so much for your generosity.